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Fate of Larimer music festival remains unclear

LOVELAND — The fate of a proposed music festival planned for late August west of Loveland remains an unanswered question, more than a week after county officials rejected its promoter’s initial application.

The Rocky Mountains division of AEG Presents — the Anschutz Entertainment Group, a major event promoter that books events around the nation and world, including at such area venues as Red Rocks and Fiddlers Green amphitheaters and Broomfield’s 1st Bank Center — had proposed to hold its inaugural AEG Music Festival Aug. 25-27 at Sunrise Ranch, two miles north of U.S. Highway 34 west of Loveland, an event it said could attract up to 13,500 people. However, the county’s development-services team recommended that county commissioners reject the application, which they did at a Feb. 6 land-use hearing.

The county staff said the AEG application didn’t sufficiently address all the criteria in the Land Use Code as well as serious concerns about safety and security and the timing of the event, which would have coincided with other major events in the area such as the Corn Festival in Loveland and the Venus de Miles bicycle road tour that also would include Larimer County Road 29 near the proposed festival site.

Lesli Ellis, Larimer County’s community development director, told BizWest on Wednesday that the promoters so far haven’t modified their plans to satisfy the county’s concerns or resubmitted an application, and repeated calls to AEG Rocky Mountains have gone unanswered.

The promoters also could seek another site for the event or scrub the plan altogether.

The property previously has hosted music festivals, including the “Arise” festival in 2019, but this one would be on a newly created 35-acre parcel east of County Road 29. In 2017, the special-events section of the Larimer County Land Use Code began to restrict properties from applying for special-events permits if they had prior approvals with conditions limiting the sizes of gatherings.

At that time, Sunrise Ranch became ineligible for such a permit because the property owner, Devine Emissaries, limited the size of gatherings there to 170 people. By 2018, the Arise Music Festival had been held on the property for five years. Larimer County approved events in summer 2018 but notified the applicant that it would need to amend the land-use approval for the site if it wanted to host the event in 2019. Sunrise Ranch began to amend the special-review approval, but county documents state that it has not continued or completed that process since then.

The county staff report recommended that AEG update its plan to meet Land Use Code criteria, propose a wildfire evacuation plan satisfactory to the sheriff’s office, guarantee that no part of the event be held west of County Road 29, submit a plan for neighborhood outreach and a 24-hour phone number by which persons may contact the applicant, and establish a “sold out” limit of 9,000 patrons at any single time during the festival, as was in effect in 2019, the last year the “Arise” festival was held before the COVID-19 pandemic.

AEG is a global sporting and music entertainment presenter, a subsidiary of the Anschutz Corp., and the world’s second largest presenter of live music and entertainment events after LiveNation.

Source: BizWest